A former Arab member of Israel’s parliament who was forced to flee the country after he was accused of working as a top Hezbollah operative is slated to speak next week in Washington, D.C., raising questions about how he obtained permission to enter U.S. soil.
Azmi Bishara, who is accused by Israel’s Shin Bet secret service of helping Hezbollah plot terrorist operations, is confirmed to speak next week at Washington’s downtown Marriott hotel as part of a conference organized by The Arab Center of Washington, D.C.
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An official from the Arab Center confirmed to the Washington Free Beacon that Bishara will be attending the event, raising questions about how an individual linked to a U.S.-designated sponsor of terror obtained permission to enter America.
Bishara was initially slated to speak alongside former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, who the Free Beacon has learned cancelled his appearance. The talk was to focus on the promotion of democracy in the Arab world, according to a current conference schedule.
McFaul’s image was removed from the conference’s webpage several hours after the Free Beacon made an inquiry into the event.
Bishara remains listed as a speaker.
Bishara, who has been living in Qatar since he fled Israel in 2007, is accused by Israel of helping Hezbollah select targets during its 2006 assault on the Jewish state. Israel is still seeking to detain Bishara and charge him for these terror offenses. Israeli authorities have said they will arrest Bishara if he returns to the country, where he could face the death penalty, according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.
The State Department declined to tell the Free Beacon if it granted a visa to Bishara. It remains unclear how he has gotten official permission to be in the United States, as Qatar, his current place of residence, is not part of the U.S. Visa Waiver Program.
A State Department official told the Free Beacon that visas are granted on a case-by-case basis, but remain confidential.
"We are unable to provide information on individual cases because visa records are confidential under U.S. law," an official told the Free Beacon. "Visa applications are adjudicated on a case-by-case basis in accordance with U.S. law."
Additionally, "Section 222 (f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) prohibits us from disclosing details from individual visa cases," the official said.
One foreign policy insider familiar with the situation questioned how Bishara obtained entry to the United States.
"The Obama administration’s tilt toward Iran is so extreme that now a visa has been given to a Hezbollah terrorist so that he can visit Washington D.C.," the source said. "The administration’s love affair with Iran is a disgrace to our country and a danger to our security."
Bishara, a former chairman of Israel’s Balad political party, is accused by Israel of aiding Hezbollah agents during the 2006 war.
"Bishara allegedly provided ‘information, suggestions and recommendations,’ including censored material, to his contacts in Lebanon during the war," according to Haaretz.
He currently serves as the general director at the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies in Qatar.